If you're in the market for a new laptop, you might want to consider a Chromebook, instead. The ultra portable mobile computer is basically a laptop running Google's Chrome operating system and it uses applications and accesses data from the cloud, rather than on the device itself.
Chromebooks are all about budget web browsing, with most coming in under the $300 mark, which is unprecedented when you consider the technology involved. But the reliance on internet connectivity and Google-related cloud apps (such as Google's cloud storage plans, instead of a big beefy hard drive that you'd expect in a laptop) means that most Chromebooks are relatively similar.
And with the rising popularity of Chromebooks since their introduction in 2011, more manufacturers are getting in on the game every year, but sometimes it may be hard to distinguish which one might be best for you. So let's take a look at what the experts are saying about the latest Chromebooks available.
The Verge, Laptop Magazine, and Android Central all gave Toshiba's Chromebook 2 its top rating in their most recent comparisons, explaining that "it's all about the screen."
"The Chromebook 2 has a 13.3-inch, 1080p screen that offers enough space to get work done and display quality that is almost entirely unparalleled," The Verge's David Pierce writes in his review. "It's not just the resolution, either: the screen has vivid and accurate colors, excellent viewing angles, and a crisp clarity that doesn't necessarily come hand-in-hand with high resolutions. It improves everything about this laptop - watching movies, working on documents, just simply browsing and shopping. It's all better when it looks better."
"At $329 for the high-end model it isn't the cheapest Chromebook out there, but falls right in the range of what consumers are expecting to pay for this kind of machine," Android Central adds. "And honestly, when you see that screen you'll think that it's a steal for the price. It's the best Chromebook out there right now, it's quite easy to say."
"Weighing just 2.95 pounds and lasting nearly 8 hours on a single charge, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is easily one of the best and most beautiful Chromebooks you can buy," Laptop Mag describes.
But TechRadar gives Dell's Chromebook 11 the top spot on its own list. "The Dell Chromebook 11 (starting at $299) is an affordable machine that does not feel or look like it was made on a budget. Compared to its competitors, this Dell falls in line with the specs already set by other Chrome laptops on the market. At the same time, it also has two USB 3.0 ports," the review continues. "What sets it apart, though, is its impressive longevity, which makes it perfect for anyone who wants to get away from the outlet with a mobile hotspot in tow."
It's important to note that TechRadar gave the Toshiba 2 its second place spot, adding another notch for the device's high overall rating.
PCPro went a different direction by giving the HP Chromebook 11 its number one spot. "HP delivers a superb example of how to build a Chromebook. It's not the fastest on the block, but it gets pretty much everything else spot on. The bright, colourful IPS display wipes the floor with the rest of the Chromebook crop, and good looks, a comfy keyboard, large touchpad and nice build quality make it a pleasure to use."
While Toshiba's Chromebook 2, Dell's Chromebook 11, and HP's Chromebook 11 dominate most top review sites' lists, several more make some impressively close honorable mentions. Acer's Chromebook C720P adds in touchscreen capabilities if that's an important feature for you, and Lenovo's Yoga 11e is seen as the tank of the bunch with its superior durability that works best for those looking to put their chromebook through the ringer.
One Chromebook that many reviewers stayed away from, though, was Google's own Chromebook Pixel. It's not that the Pixel is a poorly made machine, but its $1299 price tag put it way beyond the grasp of the typical Chromebook crowd looking for something in the typical $180 to $300 range.